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Foucault and law

Hart Publishing
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  • Archaeology
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


This chapter has three main aims - to offer a summary and discussion of what Foucault had to say about law; to offer an introduction to some of Foucault's methods for those interested in learning to use Foucault as a resource for the study of law in society and to offer a discussion of what Foucault's notion of governmentality might mean for this study. The first section deals with the fact that Foucault had little directly to say about law and suggests he thought the category less useful than those of discipline and norms. The second section provides a brief introduction to the tools of archaeology, genealogy, discourse and power-knowledge and indicates how they may be employed in the study of law in society. The third section extends this methodological discussion such that it covers the later notion of governmentality, which has spawned a new and distinct approach within the world of Foucault scholarship.

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